Monday, October 6, 2008

Breathing Exercises

I need a paper bag.

I am a deer and the Towpath Marathon is a pair of headlights. There is about to be a violent collision.

I need a paper bag.

My 10-miler on Sunday felt relieving. It also turned out to be a little bit more than 10 miles when I decided to run somewhere I never had, a parcours attached to Sand Run that winds up and down a ravine. After 9 miles, I was suddenly running a steep uphill and my lungs sizzled. I couldn't breathe. It was exhilarating.

I need a paper bag.

I said I would run this 10 miles and decide my next move. But I can't decide. It all makes perfect sense. The Towpath Marathon is in my backyard. It's pretty cheap, especially considering there are no travel costs, as there would be with my other choices. It's pretty flat. I've run the whole length of the course and more. Yet, I hesitate.

I don't need a paper bag. I need my confidence.

The sub-4:00 goal has been gnawing at me all summer. I want to reach that goal, but I'm afraid I'll miss again and feel worse. Isn't that the nature of taking risks? Failure is always a possibility. But not trying is a worse fate.

It occurs to me that I am too fixated on a number.

Success is not a number. We all know what I'll think as soon as I break four hours in a marathon. I'll want to go faster, and I'll pick a new arbitrary number as a goal. That goal is simply a means to strive harder. It does not equal the achievement of a race.

"Success rests in having the courage and endurance and, above all, the will to become the person you are, however peculiar that may be. Then you will be able to say, 'I have found my hero and he is me.'" -- George Sheehan

I want to find my hero.

This is my paper bag.

I am a deer in headlights and there is no longer a thought of flinching. Bring on the collision.


Ian said...

You don't need a paper bag, you need a CAT Scan, my friend.

Oh, and "Success is not a number" sounds like something that slow people would say.

Marcy said...

Ooooohhhh dayum. Leave it to Vanilla to give you a nice verbal sucker punch.

You're right. It's a never ending cycle. As long as you have the safety gear it's all good, right? LOL

Turi Becker said...

Yeah, it is a never-ending cycle. But you've gotta have a goal, right? And this looks like a perfect race for you.

chia said...

Ouch, and Vanilla not only takes OFF the gloves, but aims right for the goodie bags...

How many marathons has Vanilla done?

You will kill this goal. You've worked so hard for this and deserve it.

Worrying is like praying for something you don't want. Someone cool said that. I like it. It's something I think a fast person should say. Although, I wouldn't know what it's like to actually *be* a fast person... but I'll get there someday.

C said...

Success is sweeter if you've had to endure to achieve it. Having something as monumental as this handed to you on a platter does not build character. Not achieving your goal the first time around does. I guess it just comes back to the saying: 'if it were easy, everyone would do it.'

Running a sub-4 hour marathon is definitely NOT easy, but you can do this.

Good luck with the collision. Hopefully you don't come out of it just a pair of antlers mounted on the grill of a car. ;)

the erratic epicurean said...

paper bags a la tom robbins ("even cowgirls get the blues"):

"the brown paper bag is the only thing civilized man has produced that does not seem out of place in nature. crumpled into a wad of wrinkles, like the fossilized brain of a dryad; looking weathered; seemingly slow and rough enough to be the product of natural evolution; its brownness the low-key brown of potato skin and peanut shell--dirty but pure; its kinship to tree (to knot and nest) unobscured by the cruel crush of industry; absorbing the elements like any other organic entity' blending with rock and vegetation as if it were a burrowing owl's doormat or a jack rabbit's underwear, a no. 8 kraft paper bag lay discarded in the hills of dakota--and appeared to live where it lay."

good luck with that second marathon buddy.

Sun Runner said...

Me, September 29:If I crash and burn, I can at least say "I tried my best" and move on, looking ahead to a future race and another chance. I will be driven more insane by an aftermath of "if onlys..." and wondering what could have been if I had really made the effort.

You, October 6: I want to reach that goal, but I'm afraid I'll miss again and feel worse. Isn't that the nature of taking risks? Failure is always a possibility. But not trying is a worse fate.

Now who's copying whose shit? Get an original idea for once, wouldya? ;)

All good-natured snark between runners aside, I think you're exactly right, very brave, totally determined, and will have no problem reaching your goal.

And besides, speaking of being fixated on a number to the exclusion of all else, I have mine down to the second: 3:45:59.

Go kick some ass.

Spike said...

Your training is there, the Akron Marathon downhill and subsequent daunting hills will not be there. Like Nitmos said, only positive and selfish thinking from here on out.

Good luck!

tfh said...

Will you really feel worse if you miss 4:00 again? I think the accomplishment of running two marathons less than a month apart would mitigate the shame of having missed a time goal in both marathons. In fact I'm pretty impressed by the level of your insanity-- er, determination. [Navigating away from this page singing, "I can be your hero baby..."]

Nitmos said...

The pressure is off....just a few weeks after a marathon it is hard to regroup for another. this one and just see what happens. You shouldn't have the expectations to PR as piling 2 marathons on top of each other usually isn't recommended. But, for that reason, you might just surprise yourself. This is a No Lose proposition in my opinion. You have a ready made excuse - and a good one - already built in. Show up at that start line and just see what happens. It just might be pretty good. Plus, what else do you have to do that weekend? Do you work in an orphanage or something??

Jess said...

you're right the number is arbitrary and as soon as you break it you'll be looking for the next...have fun with the race, no matter what your time!

ECrunnergirl said...

I wanna break 4 hours too!! I know how you feel! Is it really just a number? Yeah, I guess it is goal for my marathon in November is a 4 hour finish...then its on to a Boston Qualifier....then what??? The big question! Looking forward to your progress....its very motivating!